Season 22, Episode 34
First aired 28 December 2017
It’s the last episode of 2017, and there are several big messes going on! We open in the pub, where Tadhg is trying to reach Maggie by phone, whispering that he knows she’s angry with him but that he really wants to talk to her. We cut to her place, where she’s sitting at the table looking sad and fiddling with the infamous ring. I’m sure there’s a Lord of the Rings joke here somewhere, but I’ve never seen it and hate it on principle, so I’m not going to go looking for it. She glances at her phone as yet another ignored call from Tadhg pings in, and it would really save her a lot of time and annoyance if Áine would just steal her phone and sell it, as she’s been known to do.
We have a five-second shot of Annette in the shop looking poor and desperate, and then we return to the pub, where Áine is arguing with her parents about whether she can stay up until midnight to ring in the New Year, which she’s also trying to parlay into a later bedtime for the entire year. She could also just argue on behalf of New Year’s Eve and then cite legal precedent, and it would be tangled up in the court system for at least a year. The conversation turns to new year’s resolutions, and Frances TOTALLY non-passive aggressively proclaims that in 2018 she wants to focus on her family, which she carefully spells out includes only her, Tadhg, and Áine. Her secondary resolution is to tie Maggie to a rocket and launch her into the sun, but she can’t start on that project until next week because all the shops are closed.
At the shop, Úna complains to Mack that it’s her last day in town before she goes back to wherever she came from, but he says he’s too busy working to spend it with her and suggests she go shopping instead, because there are some really great sales on. I would say he’s being dismissive and callous, but I just got some really great polo shirts at Dunne’s in Galway for €7 each, so he’s not wrong. It seems Úna’s family togetherness plan has been a bit of a bust, though, since she’s spent most of her visit with John Joe and Dee.
Behind the till, Annette is on the phone pleading with one of her many creditors to give her more time to pay up, because the holidays have been very difficult for her financially what with her four to six children, but it seems Bord Gáis or Bus Éireann or Nando’s or whoever is not in a mood to negotiate with her because they’ve seen this show and are familiar with her antics. She quickly hangs up when Vince appears, given that she’s supposed to be working, and right on cue he hands her a giant bag of cash, which he explains is the charity money. He asks her to look after it until Gráinne arrives later to pick it up and then pass it on to Seán or Pól or whoever is next on the list of Worst People You Could Possibly Choose To Hand A Giant Sack Of Money For Safe Keeping. He helpfully points out that there’s €3500 in there, which will save her and Seán the trouble of counting it around the kitchen table tonight, and we see her eyes turn into dollar signs, and somewhere in the countryside a homeless orphan who’s now never going to see any of this money coughs a lot of blood into a filthy handkerchief.
Oh, my mistake, I was actually hearing Maggie cough a lot of asthma into David and Gráinne’s faces. They’ve come by her place to collect a €3500 check she’s writing to Homelessness Inc., and I knew we were supposed to think she had money, but didn’t know we were supposed to think she had this much lying around. David is making nice, asking her how she spent her Christmas and so on, and she answers that she did the same as everyone else: ate too much turkey, watched the French & Saunders Christmas special, did some homewrecking, almost died a bunch of times. You know, the usual. Gráinne asks, “You didn’t stay here, did you?”, and it’s unclear whether she’s being nosy or just making conversation, but Maggie quickly changes the subject to more pleasant matters, such as whether Frances has any severe food allergies or possibly a propensity for standing very, very close to cliff edges. Gráinne volunteers David to swing by the shop, pick up the rest of the cash, and then deposit all of it at the credit union, but he gestures at his uniform and reminds her that DUH, he’s working, and she points out that UMM, she’s working TOO, and then the two of them bicker for a while about which of them is working harder since both their jobs apparently now consist of standing around in Maggie’s living room arguing. Eventually they take their circus act on the road, and Maggie stands around for a bit looking positively radiant—it seems destroying everyone’s Christmas agrees with her—and then ignores yet another call from Tadhg.
We cut to Mo’s, which you may recall is serving as Briain and Berni’s Intermittently Gay Sex Hut while she’s away. The lovebirds emerge from the bedroom looking extremely disheveled, with his shirt around his ankles and her picking his chest hair out from under her nails, and there is a lot of talk about how Mo’s house is going to have to be condemned after the structural damage their all-night sexcapades did to it. They wouldn’t be shagging so vigorously if they knew the only thing holding this shack together is a stack of Weetabix glued together two years ago by the expert construction team of Mack and David. Berni’s in a panic because if Bobbi-Lee discovers she was out all night it’ll lead to an endless stream of questions, such as, “Are you having sex?” and “Can I borrow your wallet and your ATM code for a research study I’m doing for my Open University course?” Briain reminds us, or perhaps tells us for the first time, that he’s being interviewed on Radio Money Laundering later, but Berni is more interested in trying to clear up the utterly predictable mess Operation: Gay has created. He’s not sure what options they’ve got since coming out is usually only allowed to happen in one direction, like those spikes that shoot up and pop all your tires if you try to drive your rental car the wrong way at the airport. At this point Berni has the brilliant idea for them to tell everyone that this was a social experiment they were doing, since as we all know they are both doing master’s degrees in sociology at UCD at the moment. He’s skeptical that anyone will believe this, but she assures him that they will because everyone around here is extremely gullible, which is also why more people in Ros na Rún have volcano insurance than anywhere else in Ireland.
At the pub, John Joe comes over and blatantly starts listening to Úna’s telephone conversation with Aidan, which seems a bit nervy to me, but I suppose when someone you’re not related to stays at your house for free over Christmas without being invited, you’re allowed to insert yourself in their business. She’s complaining that Aidan already had to work through Christmas, St Stephen’s Day, and almost all of Kwanzaa, and now he has to work through New Year’s, New Year’s II, and New Year’s III: Deadly Revenge, too. She hangs up, and John Joe helpfully points out that her entire family may have abandoned her, but he’d be glad to take her out for a meal. They depart just as Gráinne arrives, and after Tadhg is rude to her for a while for no reason, she casually mentions that she was over at Maggie’s earlier, which causes him to change his tune. Of course Frances appears just in time to overhear him asking a thousand questions about how Maggie’s doing and how alive she seemed to be on a scale from 1 to 10. As she starts to answer, he notices Frances standing there and is then suddenly all, “God, Gráinne, it’s always ‘Maggie, Maggie, Maggie’ with you. I don’t know why you don’t just marry Maggie!” and hurries off, leaving Gráinne wondering what the hell is happening and us wondering when Gráinne does any work.
At the shop, David is standing around telling Annette in great detail how he’s rushed off his feet and is going to be in big trouble if he doesn’t hurry up and deliver some very important insulin or possibly edible underwear he lost and then backed over with his van a couple of times. He explains that it’s going to be very difficult to do this and take the charity money to the credit union since he’s already planned to go tour wedding venues all afternoon. He’s only one man, no matter how much skiving there is to do. After 27 more minutes of whingeing about how busy he is, he comes up with the genius idea to have Annette run the money over to the bank on her break, and she makes a big production out of yelling “I want nothing to do with this money that neither I nor anyone I am married to is going to steal, that’s for sure!” and holding up “I DIDN’T DO IT” signs for the CCTV’s benefit, but he will not be dissuaded and basically forces the money into her hands as if it’s a squirming baby with a dirty nappy.
Caitríona has deigned to drop in at the radio station and do some work, which consists of turning up her nose at the list of questions Amy wants to ask Briain and suggesting that the focus of the interview should be his extreme gayness instead. Amy responds that the show is really supposed to be about his career in rugby/soccer/roller disco in Australia/New Zealand/Tonga, but Caitríona poo-poos all that and announces that what the listeners really want to hear about is whether he faced any discrimination from the fans and also what his preferred sexual position is. They argue for a while, and eventually Caitríona informs her that part of being a good journalist is asking people incredibly personal questions that have nothing to do with the story, so if she indeed wants to be a good journalist, she better get comfortable asking people to compare their genitals to a fruit or vegetable in terms of size, shape, and color.
A car pulls up in front of Maggie’s house, and the driver considerately rolls the window down so we can see it’s…Frances! Who may or may not still be driving her father’s car, which she borrowed from him for no particular reason, and which may or may not ever be relevant to the story. My guess is that Frances is framing her own father so he’ll be the one who goes down when Maggie’s blood is found in the cup holder.
At the pub, Bobbi-Lee asks Katy a bunch of questions about Cuán, who we keep forgetting is her grandson, and of course Katy doesn’t know the answers because she hasn’t seen Cuán since 5 minutes after the plane landed in Tenerife eight months ago. When Mack arrives, Bobbi-Lee’s reign of mistletoe-based terror picks up where it left off last episode, and after some protesting from him and Katy and a lot of “What are you afraid of? That a little kiss will lead to you getting her pregnant two years ago?” from her, they give in. They give each other a couple of kisses that actually look fairly intimate to me, but of course because they both still have pants on afterwards, Bobbi-Lee complains about how boring and prudish they are. Mack slinks off uncomfortably, and hopefully Bobbi-Lee will get him and Briain under the mistletoe next, because she clearly does not have enough to do.
Maggie is sadly listening to Al Jolson Sings Songs about the Spanish Flu on her Victrola, because as you’ll recall her age fluctuates between 50 and 150, when there’s a knock at the door. She shuffles over to open it and Frances is standing there with her back to the camera just so she can spin around and do a hilarious reveal. “Hi, Maggie,” she purrs, in a voice that says, “The authorities are going to have to identify your remains from a few broken strands of DNA I leave smeared across the ceiling.”
There’s a quick cut to the pub, where a distracted Tadhg is ignoring Bobbi-Lee’s nonsense, and then we return to Maggie’s, where she’s putting on a more appropriate record, such as “Killer Queen” or “Another One Bites The Dust.” She stands strategically under the framed photo of the pope and says, smiling, that she didn’t mean to cause any trouble, but that Tadhg felt like he couldn’t leave her alone in that old house full of asthma, “like any old friend would do.” Frances then reveals the approach she’s decided to take here, which is basically, “Maggie, Maggie, Maggie. You ignorant slut who is also very old. Tadhg never cared about you, he only cared about your money.” She carries on for a while like a Bond villain, and while Maggie looks grim, even by her standards, she finally responds by saying, “I’d know if he was up to something like that.” It seems Frances wasn’t expecting Maggie to do anything other than collapse like a house of cards, so she doesn’t know how to respond, and just then Maggie’s phone on the table shows that Tadhg is calling her yet again. They both look at it, and then stand there uncomfortably while it rings 29 more times, and then Frances runs out the door, letting out a single anguished sob as soon as she’s out of earshot. You can tell this whole thing has rattled her to her core, because ordinarily Frances would swat a pest like Maggie down like a fly, but she’s definitely way off her game here.
After the break, during which we learn that Taylor Swift can’t come to the phone right now because she’s died and turned into Britney Spears circa 2001, we’re back at the shop, where Annette is hilariously still carrying the giant sack of money around and hissing to Seán that the bank is completely ruthless and have threatened to start breaking their four to six children’s eight to twelve legs. He starts fiddling with the cash, so she smacks his hand away and tells him to stop thinking about it. Well, if you didn’t want him to look at it you shouldn’t have been waving it around in his face this whole time. He insists it would only be a small loan and they’d pay it back before anyone noticed it was missing, presumably with one of his famous dead certs, but she keeps repeating that it’s for charity, and she’s not sure she’s stooped quite low enough to start stealing from the homeless yet.
Back at the pub, Bobbi-Lee asks Berni where and with whom she slept last night, because in this game of Sex Cluedo it sure wasn’t Mr. Nobody at home with a hot water bottle. She starts spinning a tale about how she ran into an old friend from the remote Bermuda Triangle Islands where she grew up, and she ran into this friend at church, and this friend is also a woman, that’s the one thing we can all be sure of. None of this sounds totally suspicious at all, especially the part where she pays Bobbi-Lee €20 for a cup of coffee and then flees. Tadhg drops by to call Bobbi-Lee stupid for no reason, but she knows a big load when she hears one, and it seems the intermittently gay noose is tightening around ol’ Berni’s neck.
Just then Frances arrives and starts screaming at Tadhg at the top of her lungs in the middle of the pub, asking if he’s trying to make a fool out of her and shouting that she knows he’s been ringing Maggie again. Stupidly, he denies it, so she calls bullshit and informs him that she was standing there in Maggie’s living room watching the call come in. He’s alarmed to find out Frances has been at Maggie’s, and is even more stricken when she announces that she’s put a stop to his seafóid by telling Maggie all this has been a scheme to get his hands on her money. Also on her arse. He asks repeatedly if Maggie believed her, and Frances is evasive in a way that clearly means “no,” and he concludes that what this all demonstrates is that Frances is an evil person before stomping away.
Meanwhile, over at the radio station, Briain is explaining to Amy how he scored 53½ hoops in only 27 at-bats in his first semi-season and holds the Tasmanian record for most kebabs ever eaten during halftime by a Division B left-handed wicket kicker. Caitríona is standing around outside the booth looking theatrically bored, and eventually holds up a sign that says “ASK ABOUT HIM F***ING DUDES” in a big letters, so Amy reluctantly tiptoes around it for a while and then comes right out and asks how the team felt about him being a big homo. Caitríona gives her a big grin and a thumbs up, but before she can start charades-style miming the various sex acts she wants to know about, Briain gets indignant and announces that he didn’t have to deal with any discrimination because he’s NOT GAY, although he does like gladiator movies. He explains that for the past few weeks he’s been pretending to be gay as part of a social experiment, what with his being a noted anthropologist and all, and we cut to the pub, where we see the barflies listening intently, presumably on the historic transistor radio Áine gave Tadhg last episode. They all bug out their eyes: Berni, because this brings their secret one step closer to being revealed; Bobbi-Lee, because, well, Bobbi-Lee; and Mack, because he doesn’t know how Amy and Briain fit into that little box with the aerial. The show abruptly ends, and Berni’s all like, “Well, I learned a lot about Australian tennis hockey, and we also all heard the part about his social experiment, right?” before grabbing her purse and running for the door. Katy arrives to drop off some photos of a child who may or may not be Cuán for Bobbi-Lee, and then Mack follows her out to discuss how crazy that kiss was earlier, but that it totally didn’t mean anything, ha ha, right? She agrees that it sure was wacky, and that Bobbi-Lee be illin’ and so on, and it’s all very uncomfortable.
Tadhg has arrived at Maggie’s to rant about how unreasonable Frances is being and how she had no right to come over in the first place. To her credit, Maggie points out that Frances has been hit with a lot all of a sudden, and that considering Tadhg has caused most of the trouble by lying to both of them, he doesn’t have much room to complain. This causes him to slow his roll, and then he tells her that if things come to a head—I’m not sure how much more of a head we can really come to at this point unless Frances walks in on Maggie whipping Tadhg with a cattle prod while riding him around the kitchen—if things come to a head, they can always claim they’re “just friends.” He says this as if it’s some genius proclamation. She sadly tells him that they both know they’re more than “just friends,” and Frances knows it now, too. He tells Maggie he wants to be there, with her, and she says she knows, but that he’s got to choose his family over her, because not only does Frances need her husband, but Little Áine, Little Jason, and Little Eoin need their daddy.
At Berni’s, in the part of the set that has a fireplace I forgot existed until I saw it in person recently, she tells Briain they’ve got to tell the truth about their relationship. He asks about Evan, and she says she’s “sure he’ll be fine with it.” Yes, as we’ve learned, Evan is very emotionally flexible and tolerant. I’m sure he’ll be thrilled to find out his mother has gotten even more up close and personal with Briain’s willy than he has.
Back at the pub, Bobbi-Lee is still carrying around the mistletoe and forcing various people to kiss, such as John Joe and Caitríona and Labhrás and the coatrack. Frances sees what’s going on and screams at her to put it down in a way that’s clearly more than her usual “annoyance at Bobbi-Lee’s baseline nonsense,” and everybody gawks at her to try to figure out what flew up her butt all of a sudden. David chooses this incredibly awkward moment to make a big production out of informing Gráinne that he was able to book the Makes Downton Abbey Look Like Crap Hotel for their wedding instead of Supermac’s as they’d been planning, which makes her very happy indeed, and there is a lot of kissing. It must be easier on the wardrobe department now that David wears his postman’s uniform in every scene.
Over at the shop, Seán tells Annette he’s put the entire €3500 cash into their account and deposited the check into the charity’s account, and that this should create enough confusion to buy them time to pay the money back. Of course we don’t hear how Seán got his hands on the cash in the first place, but somehow I doubt he knocked Annette unconscious with a broomstick and ran off with the money, so she can cut the innocent bystander act. She bugs her eyes out and pulls out fistfuls of her hair for a while, but he assures her that he’ll somehow produce the cash and pay it back before anyone notices it’s gone. Well, that explains why he was practicing making fake euros with crayons and construction paper in the café earlier. He was doing pretty well until he couldn’t remember how to spell “EURO” in Greek.
Tadhg arrives home and finds Frances sitting alone at the kitchen table sadly stirring a cup of coffee, an activity the women in his life are experts at. He explains that he’s been “out walking,” and when Frances asks him point blank if there’s something going on with Maggie other than his trying to extract money from her, he says no. She asks if they slept together, and he says no, and after she asks him a bunch of other questions, such as whether this is about his father and how he feels about the Strictly result, he finally snaps and screams at her to stop. They both freeze for a moment, and then he tells her that he can’t do this any more, and that he’s leaving. He walks out without another word, and she looks stunned, and I guess the important thing here is that somehow Adam will get blamed for this and get sacked from one of his many jobs.
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